Toronto Ethiopian restaurant owner needs support after heart surgery forces closure
Ethiopian House, one of the first places for Ethiopian food in Toronto, has been opened nearly every day since it opened in 1996 by the same man.
But now, the restaurant sits closed, and has since February, since owner Mohamed Haddis discovered that he needed immediate heart surgery.
"I was an able and healthy man until then," Haddis told blogTO from Sherbourne Health, where he's been since his surgery on March 4. "I just started to feel kind of weird, lots of weakness and loss of appetite."
It'll most likely be a couple of months after that until he'll be able to reopen the doors of the restaurant.
This is coming after an already difficult year of shutdown orders and reduced business due to COVID.
Haddis says any amount of business they had been able to generate before his health emergency has gone right back to the restaurant in order to make ends meet.
"It's been my baby over 20-something years now," he says. "And if you have a baby and that baby is sick, you want to take care of it until it becomes well."
Being closed for five weeks has made matters worse.
"Downtown is high real estate," Haddis says. "We're paying maximum money per square foot. That's okay if you're making money, but if you're not, it's a high cost."
Manuela Araujo, who first met Haddis at her parent's butcher shop in Kensington Market where he used to buy meat for the restaurant before they closed, has created a GoFundMe for her friend.
Araujo hopes to garner support to ensure Haddis has a restaurant to return to once he's recovered.
"He is struggling with these times," she writes in her post, "due to having a small business closed because he is the sole owner and works day and night. If any of you know him you know how hard-working he is."
Araujo hopes to raise $60,000, but since it went up on March 9, the fundraiser has raised just under $2,000.
Haddis is grateful for his friend as well as the community that he's served the past two decades. Many have donated while others have been calling to see when he'll be reopening.
"I was surprised and my heart was warm because somebody's thinking of me that way," he says. "I really just want to thank them for being there for us for so many years. Without them, we wouldn't be there. God willing, we're gonna see each other again."
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